In 2021, Mercedes offers an abundance of many different models for every imaginable purpose. The current line-up also shares many design features that help tie every model to the brand identity, but it also sometimes makes the models look way too similar to each other.
Because of this, determining the model you are looking at might not be as easy as it once was. But there are many ways upon which you are able to determine the model you have.
The easiest way to figure out what Mercedes model you have is to look at the model designation badge on the back of the trunk lid. You can also check the VIN, the window sticker, the service sheets, or search for the information in the infotainment system.
Trunk lid model designation badge
Since the brand began, Mercedes has been placing the model designation on the trunk lid. The designation usually consists of the class of:
- The model
- A designation tied to the engine with/without forced induction
- The four-wheel-drive system
- AMG or Maybach designation for the higher trim versions.
For example, an E63 AMG S 4-MATIC badge means that the model in question is the most powerful E-class AMG model with four-wheel drive. If the badge designation read E53 AMG, then it means that the model in question is the entry-level performance AMG E-class.
Five years ago, Mercedes changed the model designation. Before if the badge read E300 it would mean the car was powered by a 3.0-liter engine. Nowadays it usually means that if the number is larger, it is powered by a stronger engine than a car with a small number on the trunk lid.
VIN: Vehicle Identification Number
In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States standardized the VIN (Vehicle identification Number) as a way of providing a unique way of determining every new car produced or imported.
Before this, cars used an engine number. This became an issue, as many cars replaced their engines mid-life due to reliability or other reasons.
A VIN is somewhat of an automotive version of the fingerprint because every model ever produced has a unique code. A VIN consists of 17 characters (digits and capital letters): If it’s less than 17, it means that the car was produced before 1981.
What the VIN number means
- The first character tells you where the vehicle was made.
- The 2nd and the 3rd ones tell you who built the car (which manufacturer).
- The next 4 characters identify which model it is, by telling you the engine, size, and the type of the model.
- The 9th character is a security code for validating the VIN from the factory.
- The 10th character tells you the model year.
- The last 6 characters are the serial number of the vehicle, which has the indication about which plant manufactured the car.
In most Mercedes models, the VIN is located on the windshield, and it’s definitely the most reliable way to determine which model you have.
Window sticker, service sheets, and the infotainment system car details
For every new car sold, there is a corresponding window sticker that tells you all you need to know about the model, the equipment, the costs, and the fuel efficiency ratings. Most owners save the window sticker as it makes it a lot easier for a 2nd hand buyer to know everything about the car and the original dealer.
Furthermore, you can also check your maintenance service sheets as most models are serviced by authorized dealers. These sheets also usually contain all the information about the model and the history of the vehicle.
One more way of determining which model it is by checking the car’s info in your infotainment system. This is a car industry version of system properties on a computer, and it should contain all the info you might ever need about the car in question.
More about VIN numbers
Which way of determining the Mercedes model designation is the most reliable?
The most reliable way to identify your vehicle is definitely through the VIN as this number is the most important identification number tied to a car. A VIN cannot be covered nor erased in any way, as it is mandated by the government for every car that a VIN is easily readable at any point of the car’s life.
The trunk badge route is usually as reliable as the VIN, but sometimes people de-badge their vehicles as it makes for a cleaner look. Furthermore, some people like to put designations such as AMG on a non-AMG model with the intent of fooling someone into thinking they actually own an AMG when they don’t.
Are there any other locations where I can search for a Mercedes VIN?
The VIN number can be found on many different parts of the vehicle. Some of which include: the driver’s door jam or sometimes on the passenger side, under the windshield on the driver’s side, near the firewall of the vehicle, or even on the steering column. Also, a VIN can be found under the hood in a few places.
In addition, the VIN can be found on many of the documents associated with a specific car. Documents such as the registration title, car title, and vehicle maintenance record from your dealer usually also contain the VIN.
What does it mean if I can’t find the VIN or they don’t match?
If you are unable to locate the VIN in all the aforementioned places, and you checked all the documents, or some of them are different from the other ones, you should check your DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) for further information as they are able to determine the VIN of a specific automobile.
The reasoning behind this problem is usually a clerical mismatch and can be solved fairly easily. But, in some instances it might actually mean that the car is stolen. Even though this is a vague possibility, you should always make sure that all the VINs match on every document and every location on the car when buying used.